The documentary is dedicated to exploring the life and legacies of Ulugh Beg, the great 15th century astronomer who ruled Transoxania, Central Asia, from 1411 to 1449.
The idea of creating the film originated a long time ago. Ulugh Beg’s personality and historical role have fascinated me ever since my childhood. A great polymath and enlightened ruler, Ulugh Beg was an extraordinary man, whose incredible impact and legacy extend beyond the boundaries of time and space.
Ulugh Beg’s name can be listed alongside the likes of Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler.
During Ulugh Beg’s rule, Samarkand became the centre of the world’s most advanced studies in astronomy. He built a monumental observatory which brought together some of the most prominent scholars of the time. Ulugh Beg compiled a catalogue containing data on 1,118 stars and measured the year to within 25 seconds of its actual duration. Moreover, his calculation of the earth’s axial tilt as 23.52 degrees is still the most accurate measurement to date. Star charts created by Ulugh Beg were used in navigation up until the 19th century.
He was a man with a difficult, tragic but extraordinary life. A remarkable person with an impressive intellect and passion for science and knowledge, he was far ahead of his time, and tragically became a victim of the darkness and ignorance of the epoch.
While working on the film’s script we carried out a long and painstaking research to explore the events surrounding Ulugh Beg’s extraordinary life from his birth into the Timurid dynasty through his remarkable childhood and education right up to his death.
Raised in the court of his grandfather Tamerlane, the great medieval conqueror and founder of the Timurid empire, Ulugh Beg was educated by best scholars of that time. Tamerlane regarded education and knowledge as key drivers of his country’s future prosperity, and therefore paid close attention to his grandson’s education. This played a decisive role in the development of Ulugh Beg’s personality as a just ruler and an outstanding scholar.
It was my firm conviction that the film should be made by a person who was born and raised in Uzbekistan and had an extensive background knowledge of the subject. Film director Bakhodir Yuldashev and I have known each other for many years. He gladly accepted our offer to work on the project and immersed himself completely in the story, the epoch and the extraordinary personality of the great scholar and ruler.
I think Bakhodir has made an excellent job of providing an insight into Ulugh Beg’s life and achievements. The film features interviews with leading experts and scholars from the USA, France, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Russia, Uzbekistan and the Netherlands.
It is noteworthy that many of the international scholars we have spoken to stressed the important part bplayed by Ulugh Beg’s remarkable achievements and inventions in sparking their interest in our country and region as a whole.
The documentary also features artefacts, manuscripts and exhibits held at the Bodleian libraries in Oxford, British museum, Observatoire de la Cote d’Azur in France, the Museum of the History of Science in Oxford, and St. John’s College. Filming was also done at Princeton University, Griffith Observatory and the University of California.
Starring in the film are world-renowned actors Vincent Cassel, Armand Assante and Francisco Ovalle. I would also like to mention here the brilliant work by our Uzbek actors Maruf Otajonov, Javakhir Zakirov and Khashim Arslanov.
The film makers also introduced some scenes with enactments of historical events. A very close attention was paid to making and selecting the elaborate outfits to better reflect the spirit of that time.
The film’s score was composed by well-known record producer and songwriter Walter Afanasieff, the winner of the 1999 Grammy Award in the Record of the Year category for producing “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. Afanasieff produced and arranged many successful motion picture soundtracks, including for “Aladdin» (“A Whole New World”), “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (“Someday”) and “Hercules.
Amazing Uzbek singer Sevara Nazarkhan’s brilliant performance features in the film’s soundtrack.
We will keep you abreast of news regarding the film’s premiere.
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